We hear a lot about employee engagement, and there is a lot of valuable research that documents that engaged employees make better employees. We’ve demonstrated the benefits of having an engaged and motivated workforce are many.
Today’s message isn’t to convince you that employee engagement activities help create emotional bonds with their employers and coworkers, help inspire, and encourage innovation. While they do all of that, my purpose is to share some new, practical ideas that will help engage employees in fun and creative ways. Some of these may provide benefits to charities but others are simple, fun things to do at the workplace.
Hold Fun in High Regard
– Fun is not a bad word. Employees need to associate fun with work. There are a number of ways to incorporate fun into the workday, and the benefits that doing so can have on employee engagement levels within your organization are countless.
You don’t necessarily need to disrupt your normal workweek in any way to incorporate fun into the office. Hold contests within your organization, allow for some physical activity during the day, start a company band, and let the band play occasionally during the lunch hour.
Good Done Great recently organized a “fun” committee, the “Great Culture Club,” to plan and create opportunities to engage employees in simple but fun things.
A massage session was held in our Charleston office where employees could sign up and receive a free mini-massage during the workday. Furthermore, we created three channels on our internal communications platform, Slack, for informal communication surrounding fun activities in our community- from yoga classes to where to find the best boiled peanuts in Charleston.
– Take time to celebrate success. It might be the landing of a new contract, reaching an important milestone, launching a new client, or recognizing the birthdays of employees. Nearly every day of the year has been designated as some type of holiday…they might be informal, weird, stupid, meaningful, etc. It doesn’t matter. The important thing is to celebrate.
Pick and choose specific occasions to celebrate with time-out from the day. It is often the little things that stimulate interest and help employees feel better about their workplace.
Leverage the Power of Your Employees
– The rise of crowdfunding, online giving challenges and peer-to- peer campaigns has transformed employees into cause champions who encourage family, friends, and coworkers to give along with them. Your employees already love using social media to solicit their coworkers and connections to give to good causes. Innovate by making these appeals a part of your employee engagement programs.
Motivation by Food
– Research has been done that shows having company-provided food around the office makes employees feel more valued and appreciated. One third of those responding to a recent survey said that free food would prompt them to attend optional meetings.
I once worked for a company where a free lunch was provided to all the employees every Monday. It was a fun time. These “free” lunches encouraged people to chow down and interact with their colleagues. I would sit and network with colleagues that I normally wouldn’t interact with. These lunches proved to be valuable, fun, engaging, and a reward for employees.
For those of you concerned about the cost of providing food or the healthiness of the options, you may want to consider taking the money that is used to buy food and place it in a fund. Once the fund has grown to a sizable level, let employees choose a charity and make a donation to that nonprofit.
– Employees like to be recognized and rewarded. Whether the recognition comes from management or peers it is valuable.
Employees from different generations may value recognition in different ways. For example, millennial employees may appreciate on-demand feedback and instant recognition, while baby boomers and Gen X may appreciate a more discreet form of recognition.
Recognition promotes positive behaviors and attitudes in the workplace, and in turn, promotes higher levels of employee engagement.
– One aspect of recognition is to share it with others. One of the most powerful practices is “story telling.” When someone does something great and is recognized by their peers, tell people about it. Mention the recognition in company meetings, newsletters, or company blog. These stories create employee engagement and learning.
Consider making a small financial donation to a charity chosen by the employee being recognized.
Meet at a Charity
– Companies are notorious for holding meetings. Have you ever considered holding a meeting at a nearby nonprofit and while there take a few minutes to learn about the mission and services of that organization?
There may be opportunities to engage at a deeper level through in-kind support, employee volunteerism, mentoring, etc. Exposing employees to the impact nonprofit organizations are having in the community helps develop a motivated and engaged volunteer. This is the beginning of transformational volunteerism.
Donate Unused Vacation Time to Charity
– Many employees simply do not use all their allotted vacation time. Many are in a “lose or use” situation at the end of each year. What if instead of losing vacation time, employees could donate it to a charity? Monetary donations are based on the hourly rate of the employee.
We recommend consulting with your accountants or ensuring you have the proper guidelines in place and understand the tax implications, but this has proven an effective tool for many companies.
Employees are simply the most important asset a company has. Companies that have a culture of engaging employees reap great benefits. It is important to provide dynamic, flexible, and innovative employee engagement programs. The result will be a loyal and energetic workforce.
Now go have some fun…